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NEW YORK - Winter sports fans will do more than experience the exhilarating sport of luge at six popular U.S. ski resorts this winter, courtesy of Verizon and USA Luge.
As part of Verizon's countdown to Torino celebration, the 2006 Verizon Luge Challenge will feature USA Luge athletes and coaches scouting each event and inviting the top youth performers to participate in screening camps at the USA Luge training facility in Lake Placid, N.Y. The top-performing adults at each location will be entered into a drawing to win a 50-inch HDTV, courtesy of Panasonic.
Families and winter sports enthusiasts will experience the Fastest Sport on Ice® in a safe slope-side setting, with help from USA Luge international medalists, athletes and coaches. Participation in the Verizon Luge Challenge is free, and no experience or lift ticket is required. Adults and children, aged 10 and older -- after learning the basics of accelerating, steering and stopping from USA Luge athletes and coaches -- can take practice runs on a recreational version of a luge sled down a track complete with curves and timing equipment. As fans enjoy live DJs, prize drawings and complimentary refreshments, participants can spend the afternoon tackling the course in a race against the clock to win valuable prizes, courtesy of Verizon and sponsors such as Panasonic, Columbia, LG, Olympus and JetBlue Airways.
Since 1996, the Verizon Luge Challenge has exposed the sport to thousands of fans nationwide. This year, fans can experience the Verizon Luge Challenge on both coasts, with stops in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Washington. To learn more about this year's schedule of events, visit the Verizon Luge Challenge Web site at http://www.verizon.com/lugechallenge. Fans can learn more about the sport of luge by visiting http://www.usaluge.org.
Following is the 2006 schedule:
- Jan. 21-22, Thunder Ridge Mountain Resort, Patterson, N.Y.
- Jan. 28-29, Liberty Mountain Resort, Carroll Valley, Pa.
- Feb. 4-5, Wachusett Mountain, Princeton, Mass.
- March 4-5, Waterville Valley Ski Resort, Waterville Valley, N.H.
- March 11-12, Ski White Pass, Seattle, Wash.
- March 18-19, Whiteface Mountain, Lake Placid, NY
Those who show the most promise will have the opportunity to become international luge athletes, as the top sliders in the youth categories will be invited to participate in U.S. Developmental Team screening camps in Lake Placid, N.Y., from which future medal-winners could emerge.
"With the USA Luge team preparing for Torino, interest in the sport will be at an all-time high this winter," said Pat Hennebry, Verizon's director of Sponsorships. "The Verizon Luge Challenge allows participants to taste the thrill of luge in a safe setting, while also building recognition for the sport and encouraging support of our national team."
Since becoming a founding sponsor of USA Luge in 1985, Verizon has helped propel the country's national luge team to world-class competitor status. USA Luge has grown in prominence, winning more than 380 international medals since 1994 in Olympic, World Championship, World Cup and Challenge Cup competitions.
Last season, the U.S. squad slid to a combined 12 World Championship, World Cup and Challenge Cup medals. Tony Benshoof (White Bear Lake, Minn.) captured seven men's singles podiums, while two-time Olympic medalists, Mark Grimmette (Muskegon, Mich.) and Brian Martin (Palo Alto, Calif.), raced to their fourth-career world championship bronze medal after anchoring Team USA to a silver medal finish in the season-ending 38th World Luge Championship team competition. Ashley Hayden (Westborough, Mass.) also slid to a bronze medal at the 2005 women's singles World Cup Finale.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other communication innovations to wireline and wireless customers. Verizon operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 49.3 million customers nationwide, and one of the nation's premier wireline networks, serving home, business and wholesale customers in 28 states. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of nearly 215,000 and generates annual revenues of more than $71 billion from four business segments: Domestic Telecom, Domestic Wireless, Information Services and International. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.
John Bonomo, Verizon, 212-395-7756
Jon Lundin, USA Luge, 518-523-2071 ext. 112
Bill Pearse, The Graubard Group, 212-966-9000